It’s just one little verse tucked in the middle of a long list of Paul’s commendations, but it packs a big punch.
“Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” Romans 16:7.
I read Scot McKnight’s ebook “Junia is Not Alone” last year and was astonished to learn that most scholars believe that Junia was both a woman and an apostle, although many English translations of the Bible present her as a man. It was infuriating to learn how deliberately her gender had been misrepresented.
The Junia Project is born
My daughter Kate and I started kicking around some ideas about how we might restore Junia’s reputation after learning that she had been recast in scripture as a man for hundreds of years. We agreed with McKnight that Junia’s story “mirrors the story of women in the Bible, in the history of the church, and in our current world where many women are finding their voice” and that she would be a great rallying point for those interested in helping the church move towards a more healthy theology of women.
And so about a year ago this month “The Junia Project” was born, first existing on a lonely Pinterest board, then in the form of a Facebook group, and now as a multi-author blog platform for people advocating for biblical gender equality.
Searching for Junia
I wish I’d taken a screen shot the first time I Googled “Junia” in early 2013. With the exception of the Wikipedia entry and a link to McKnight’s book, the other links on the first page of the search results mostly argued that Junia was a man, or that she must have been some kind of “junior apostle”.
Today the results are much different. As you can see by this screen shot taken on 4/27/2014, now most of the links on the first page take you to sites that support Junia’s status as both a woman and as an apostle!
These results are not static, and if you Google “Junia, apostle” you’ll get about a 50/50 split. But think about it, dear readers; in just one year you Googled and read and wrote and commented enough to turn the tide. Together we are in the process of resurrecting Junia!
Who Killed Junia?
This week we’re running a two-part series by guest author Patrick Mead that summarizes the dramatic history of how Junia’s name has been translated down through the ages. Stay tuned for some colorful characters and “stranger than fiction” details!
In the meantime, enjoy this 2 minute video short on Junia by Suzanne Burden, co-author of the new book Reclaiming Eve:
And every time you click on our site, imagine Junia being restored to her rightful place in church history.
YOUR TURN: When did you first learn that Junia was almost certainly a woman apostle? Are there other women leaders in the bible you would like to learn more about?
For a quick but interesting read download the ebook Junia Is Not Alone by Scot McKnight for just $2.99.
Suzanne McCarthy has done extensive research on Junia. Find her series of 16 articles here.